World Two men officially candidates to lead the right to...

Two men officially candidates to lead the right to the legislative elections in September

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Markus Söder, candidate for the post of leader of the German Conservatives for the September elections. – TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

The duel is now official in the race to succeed Angela Merkel: the Bavarian Markus Söder and the CDU party leader Armin Laschet will compete for the nomination of the conservatives for the German legislative elections, in a competition which should be settled quickly. “If the CDU was ready to support me, I will be ready. If the CDU does not want it, the common work will continue without resentment ”, declared, according to parliamentary sources, the head of the Land of Bavaria during a closed meeting of the executives of the CDU / CSU group.

Armin Laschet, leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) also, as expected, claimed to be a candidate for the nomination. While the Conservatives have promised to settle the question “between Easter and Pentecost” (May 24), the timetable could accelerate. Goal ? Get the party out of the rut as quickly as possible. Because the end of Angela Merkel’s reign, after sixteen years in power, turns into ordeal. Erratic management of the pandemic, setback in two recent regional elections, the CDU and the Christian Social Union (CSU) are also splashed by a scandal of financial embezzlement around the purchase of medical masks.

Polls at half mast

The feverishness is also at its height in view of the latest polls: the CDU-CSU Union currently only collects 26% to 28.5% of the voting intentions for the legislative elections of September 26. Almost ten points lower than in February, and an abysmal drop since last year when it climbed to 40%. The meeting this Sunday is above all a “kind of examination of the candidatures”, judges the daily Southgerman newspaper, during which the two candidates give their vision of the future.

The bubbling 50-year-old Markus Söder, who heads the CSU, has the polls on his side. According to the public channel ARD, 54% of voters believe that he is a good candidate. For the sixty-year-old Armin Laschet, the share of favorable opinions is only 16%. But generally it is up to the CDU to present a candidate. The CSU, a regional group, has only twice represented the entire conservative camp in the elections, with two failures.

Armin Laschet, elected only since January at the head of the CDU, for his part accumulates setbacks. His recent proposal for a strict but brief lockdown to curb the third wave of contamination has sparked criticism and even sneer. The regional leader of North Rhine-Westphalia had indeed so far championed the easing, to the point of coming into conflict with Angela Merkel. For the elected official, long perceived as the political heir of Angela Merkel, the difficulty is to embody both continuity and renewal.

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